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Holiday paradise for Grandkids

Orlando, a favourite destination for youngsters and their doting grandparents is expanding its offering this year as self-proclaimed ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’. 

If you are thinking of heading to Florida this year this Choice guide to what’s new and what’s happening will be invaluable.

In the coming year visitors can thrill to the world’s first-ever “surf coaster” and immersive escape rooms inspired by beloved blockbuster films, as well as stay in new luxury accommodation, family friendly hotels and use the high-speed rail connecting Miami to Orlando.

The Surf Coaster, SeaWorld Orlando’s 7th roller coaster, will open in spring 2023. The attraction will be the world’s first “Surf Coaster,” offering a dynamic surfing launch and “wave jumping” motions. As soon as you’re in position, you’ll know something’s different. Experience the rush of launching 110 feet up and sensing every bank and curve as though you’re really riding the waves, thanks to an inventive harness that keeps you secure while giving you unparalleled freedom of movement. The coaster reaches speeds of 60mph and has 2,900+ft of track.  

Here’s a round-up of the resorts…

Walt Disney World Resort (Disney celebrates 100 years in 2023)

  • TRON Lightcycle / Run, scheduled to open at Magic Kingdom Park in spring 2023, will be one of the fastest coasters at any Disney theme park in the world. Based on the Disney sci-fi film TRON: Legacy, guests will speed across a world with no horizons in a high-stakes race in their very own Lightcycle.   
  • Walt Disney World announced an updated nighttime spectacular with the return of the “Happily Ever After” lighting up the skies at Magic Kingdom Park in 2023. 
  • Journey of Water, inspired by Moana, opens in late 2023 within World Nature - the EPCOT neighborhood dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe, and balance of the natural world. The all-ages attraction will allow guests to explore and engage with water as it travels from the skies to the oceans and back again. 

 Universal Orlando Resort 

  • Universal’s Great Movie Escape at Universal CityWalk is the first-ever escape room experience that features two rooms with interactive state-of-the-art missions, captivating storytelling and intricately detailed sets, inspired by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s blockbuster films Jurassic World and Back to the Future.   
  • Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast – opening summer 2023 at Universal Studios Florida – will combine innovative screen technology, state-of-the-art gaming interactivity and elaborate physical sets to create a one-of-a-kind, game-based adventure where guests encounter immersive environments, nefarious villains and tons of mischievous Minions from Illumination’s blockbuster film franchise.  The new attraction will be part of a new Minion land, featuring the beloved Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction, a new Minion café and more.

 Legoland Florida Resort 

  • Legoland Florida will open its newest attraction – Pirate River Quest – in early 2023. The family-friendly treasure hunt adventure, led by a pirate in search of a lost treasure, takes guests through the uncharted waters of the legendary Cypress Gardens to discover the secrets protecting its canals. 


  • Set to open in Autumn 2023, Conrad Orlando at Evermore will have 433 rooms, including 51 regular suites and 10 spacious family suites. Other features include 40,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, a tranquil spa, numerous dining options and a signature rooftop experience. The hotel will be the first phase of a massive 10,000-bedroom resort complex offering an array of stay experiences, from single homes to villas, flats and hotel guestrooms.   
  • Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando — Disney Springs® Area, the newest official Walt Disney Partner Hotel, is set to be completed in spring 2023 with 604 guestrooms and 17,000+ square feet of meeting space. Property guests will be able to enjoy a resort-style pool, splash pad and poolside dining and refreshments, as well as an extensive marketplace, a cozy dining experience, complimentary hot breakfast, shuttle service to all four Walt Disney World® Resort theme parks, and evening snacks and beverages.    
  • Cambria Hotel Orlando Universal Blvd is now welcoming guests. Located in the International Drive Resort area – near major attractions as well as local shopping and restaurants – this 118-room property offers amenities including a rooftop pool and lounge, state-of-the-art fitness center, the sophisticated Veer Kitchen and Bar restaurant, rooftop bar and more.   
  • Opening in Autumn 2023, Aloft Lake Nona will be a six-story, 205-room music-themed property. Its eclectic décor and design nods to the hotel’s music and technology roots that gives each guestroom its own character. Aloft Lake Nona will also feature a 10,000 square-foot conference center and full-service restaurant.  
  • JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes completed several multimillion-dollar renovations just in time for 2023 travel. The property’s new amenities and offerings include: an expansive waterpark, refreshed guest rooms and suites, the introduction of inspired executive family suites, and a redesigned and upgraded lobby lounge.  
  • Visitors staying at Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando in 2023 will experience new additions – the upscale Altira Rooftop Pool Lounge where guests can savor seasonally influenced dishes and specialty cocktails – and reimagined spaces like the property’s signature restaurant, The Boheme and the Bösendorfer Lounge.  
  • The Alfond Inn at Rollins, the award-winning boutique hotel in the heart of historic Winter Park will renovate 112 existing rooms and suites and add an additional 71 luxury guestrooms and suites, added meeting space and a lobby café. In addition, a new spa will feature seven treatment rooms, a new fitness area and added meeting space. The project is expected to be completed in summer 2023. 

 Dining and nightlife

  • The Cake Bake Shop by Gwendolyn Rogers, an Indiana-based table service restaurant and bakery, will open a new location at Disney’s BoardWalk in Walt Disney World Resort in 2023. The restaurant will offer savory and sweet options, along with afternoon tea service. 
  • Brew Theory Marketplace, an all-new food hall coming to Apopka in summer 2023, will feature a full liquor bar, Brew Theory taproom, a beer garden and various retail tenants.   
  • Rosa Mexicano opens its first Orlando-area location in the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin in early 2023. The menu showcases a contemporary interpretation of authentic Mexican cuisine, including more than 100 varieties of tequila and agave-based spirits.  
  • Pointe Orlando’s newest restaurant addition KAVAS Tacos + Tequila, a restaurant concept by the owners of Tapa Toro and Taverna Opa, pays tribute to Mexico’s rich culinary history, featuring savory comfort food.   
  • Also new at Pointe Orlando, JoJo’s ShakeBAR, offers a modern, yet familiar diner experience featuring incredibly Instagram-worthy desserts, milkshakes and smashburgers.  
  • Dizzy Donuts, from Pizza Bruno's Bruno Zacchini, is due to open by early 2023 in College Park. Tapping into Zacchini's love of cake donuts, Dizzy Donuts will serve hot, made-to-order donuts tossed in different toppings, as well as already prepared donuts dressed in more elaborate flavor creations.  

Arts and Culture

  • Orlando Fringe will opened “Fringe ArtSpace,” a year-round performing arts venue, in downtown Orlando on January 11. The 9,100 square foot space will include two performing theatre spaces: a main stage with 166 seats and a black box with 40-60 seats. The programing will feature a mix of traditionally programmed theatre and concerts as well as a studio series with weekly, monthly and pop-up events like workshops, classes, readings, performances and artistic explorations.     
  • Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando will open Judson’s in fall 2023. The dynamic music room will offer intimate cabaret-style seating for 150 for live performances. Judson’s joins Steinmetz Hall, Walt Disney Theater and Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater as the fourth performance space in the $613 million, 9-acre venue.  


Brightline Orlando Station, conveniently located at Orlando International Airport’s (MCO) Terminal C, will connect domestic and international visitors traveling between Orlando and Miami with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Riders will enjoy touchless ticketing, premium in-station lounges, complimentary WiFi, and topnotch bars and restaurants at every Brightline station.  

Images are: Surfing in mid-air. SeaWorld’s newest ride. The Evermore development and how it will look, starting with the opening of the Conrad Orlando hotel this year.

Have you already experienced Florida? We'd love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. Just drop us a message on Facebook 

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